Virgin Australia wants to let cats and dogs on domestic flights

The airline has announced small pets could soon be allowed on board with their owners.

Small pets could soon be flying around the country with their owners after Virgin Australia announced a huge change to its domestic flight procedures.

On Thursday the airline shared its intention to provide the country's first pet onboard service with the change expected to come into effect within the next 12 months, subject to regulatory approval.

"Overwhelmingly, our guests tell us they want to travel with their pets, and we are now on a journey to make that a reality. It's something that commonly happens overseas and is proven to work well," Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said.

Virgin Australia aircrafts lined up beside on another at an airport after announcing pets could be allowed onboard domestic flights.
Virgin Australia could be welcoming pets onboard domestic within the next 12 months. Source: Getty

Virgin Australia have taken inspiration North America where the majority of airlines offer a pet onboard service for domestic flights. European airlines including Air France and Turkish Airlines also permit certain pets to board the cabin.

Virgin Australia say there is also a strong appetite among Aussie passengers to travel with pets, with 85 per cent of respondents in an online survey voting in favour of pets being allowed in cabins.

However when questioned by Yahoo News Australia, major rival Qantas and its budget subsidiary Jetstar revealed neither airline will change their policy in the wake of Virgin's announcement. Yahoo asked each airline whether there were any plans to review that strategy, but each chose not to respond.

Overseas airlines have taken a more liberal approach to pets on planes. Source: Getty
Overseas airlines have taken a more liberal approach to pets on planes. Source: Getty

How would pets travel in the cabin of a Virgin Australia flight?

Virgin Australia have given insight into the pet onboard service which will be limited to only small cats and dogs on specific domestic flights — with the particular routes not yet announced.

There will be a limited number of designated rows that pets will be able to travel in and they must be in a pet carrier approved by the airline which fits under the seat in front of the owner. Pets will not be allowed to freely roam the cabin or sit on the lap of passengers.

"Our love for animals has always been in the Virgin Australia DNA and we are excited at the prospect," Hrdlicka said.

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